Can a Sense of Awe Help Us Medically?


Awe & astonishment: what benefits can they bring?

In checking what my weekly video from a year was about, it was about awe. Without consciously thinking about it, I wrote a column last week on a reaction related to awe, that being astonishment. Clearly, this time of year elicits awe in me. That probably comes from the beginning of the fall in the Northern Hemisphere, this year in a few days, and the leaves changing colors, along with the varying times of the Jewish Days of Awe. So much can elicit those positive and beneficial feelings of awe and astonishment, as long as you are open to receiving them. They can be as inevitable as the dying of the leaves and eventually ourselves.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry, and is now in retirement and refirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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